In this week's column, some key points will be discussed concerning strategies, as well as some factors to take note of, in anticipation of the trade deadline.
It is pretty obvious that once the trade deadline has passed, you're more or less stuck with the team that you've got. So, it is important to mention that you don't want to rely on the waiver wire for any productive players. In most cases, the waiver wire will be wiped clean of all quality guys once the trade deadline rolls around. This is even more evident in leagues that consist of ten teams or more. You want to make sure that your starting lineup is set with a group of NFL starters who are given the opportunities each week to post solid fantasy points for your team. You don't want to be scrambling to play match-ups in Week 13 when you're sitting on the cusp of making your league's fantasy playoffs.
As previously stated, after the trade deadline, you're starting lineup should be more or less set for the remainder of the fantasy season. It may be a gamble to make deals involving back-ups, however, is there really a need for a No. 3 running back if you already have two solid starters filling those positions in your lineup? The answer is no. Here's an example of the point trying to be made let's say you have Tiki Barber (NYG) and Kevin Jones (DET) as your two starting backs with Ahman Green sitting the bench. If you're weak at your #2 wide receiver, it might be a good idea to package Green with one of your mid-level receivers for someone like Chris Chambers (MIA) or Donald Driver (GB). You don't want to look back on your season to see that you sat Ahman Green for the last few weeks and didn't make the playoffs. In this case, that's a lot of value sitting on your bench that you didn't utilize in a trade. As has been stated in this column time and time again: "maximize your fantasy points"!
If you do decide to go this route, something you may want to consider after the trade deadline is to "handcuff" some of your key starters. Using the same example, now that you have unloaded your fantasy back-up RB, look to scoop up the actual back-ups on your remaining players' respective teams (using the previous example, New York's Brandon Jacobs and Detroit's Brian Calhoun). It may seem a bit unnecessary now, but if one of your starters goes down with an injury, you don't want to let someone else beat you to the waiver wire when trying to snag your injured player's back-up.
Also, take a look at any injured players that may be coming back in the near future. You may be able to grab some top talent at a low price, which could pay huge dividends in your league's fantasy playoffs. A perfect example of this involves Seattle Seahawks RB Shaun Alexander. As we all know, Alexander has been sidelined since Week 3 with a broken foot. And even though he claims that he will be ready to play in Week 10, things aren't looking too good for last year's NFL MVP. Since his injury, Alexander's fantasy stock has plummeted. Nevertheless, he should be on the field when it matters most to you. Think of how nice it would be to have Alexander's services in the last few weeks of your fantasy season (and the playoffs) when the Seahawks face Arizona, San Francisco and Tampa Bay (all three in the bottom half of the league in defending the run). Of course the list of currently injured players you may want to consider is not only limited to Alexander alone other noteworthy players ready to make a comeback in 2006 include: QB Trent Green (KC), WR Matt Jones (JAX), WR Larry Fitzgerald (ARI) and TE Vernon Davis (SF).
Most importantly, don't get caught up in the trading frenzy. Sometimes the best deal is no deal at all. If you're on schedule to make your league's fantasy playoffs, there might not be any need to change the whole landscape of your team. And if you do plan on making a deal or two, take a look at team schedules before you finalize any trades. Sure, making a trade for Steelers RB Willie Parker might sound like a good idea now, but when Pittsburgh squares up against Carolina and Baltimore in the last few weeks of the season, you'll be banging your head on your computer's keyboard. Be smart when you're getting ready to pull the trigger before the trade deadline. Take into account any and all factors that may affect your players when it matters most.
PATRIOTS FANTASY REPORT
In a classic AFC East showdown, the New York Jets head to Gillette Stadium this weekend to face the New England Patriots. These two teams already met in Week 2, resulting in a 24-17 victory for the Pats. And coming off a tough loss this past weekend at home against Indianapolis, New England will look to take out all their frustrations on a weak Jets defense in Week 10. New York ranks near the bottom of the barrel in almost every defensive category so far in 2006. Only the Tennessee Titans (368.5) have given up more total yards per game than the Jets (359.1), and New York currently ranks in the bottom quarter of the league in points per game allowed (24.1). Although porous at times, their only strength lies in the secondary, anchored by safeties Kerry Rhodes and Erik Coleman. However, the Jets biggest struggle concerns stopping the run allowing an average of 143.0 rushing yards per game thru Week 9. That's third worst in the NFL, only edging out Tennessee (163.5 rushing yards per game) and Indianapolis (165.4 rushing yards per game).
Forecasts are calling for a wet one this Sunday in Foxboro, with scattered showers and highs in the mid-50's. Couple these conditions with the Jets inability to stop the run, and the Patriots fantasy player to watch this week should be rookie RB Laurence Maroney. After his two-touchdown performance against Cincinnati in Week 4, Maroney has been pretty quiet in the last few weeks. And although RB Corey Dillon has been getting a lot of shine lately, Maroney should rebound this week against a weak front-seven. He hasn't seen the endzone in the Patriots' last four contests; however, this is the perfect opportunity for Maroney to break out of his scoreless slump. In Week 2, he put up a noteworthy effort at the Meadowlands, scoring once and amassing 65 yards rushing.
If the weather reports are accurate, and the conditions do become an issue this weekend, look for Maroney to also have success getting some solid receiving yards out of the backfield. The Jets have had trouble defending backs on passing plays this season. On average, New York allows 8.1 yards for every pass thrown to a running back. With Maroney averaging 10+ yards per reception thru Week 9, this could be a huge opportunity for him to rack up quality receiving yards. Obviously, coach Bill Belichick has done a good job balancing the running back situation in New England this season, splitting touches between Dillon and Maroney. Nevertheless, Maroney has the ability to cut back against defenses and bust one loose at any time. Combine this with his ability to be an excellent option for QB Tom Brady on pass attempts, and all signs point to a big week for this former Golden Gopher.
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